News Bites

Some 25,000 people were evacuated and seven firefighters were injured while putting out a massive fire that engulfed part of Germany’s largest amusement park. Europa-Park opened its doors as normal on Sunday although sections of the theme park remained closed.

Siemens will invest €10 million in Europe’s answer to Tesla’s Gigafactory. The €4-billion plant in northern Sweden will start producing e-car batteries this year.

Daimler may have to recall more than 600,000 diesel Mercedes cars as German regulator KBA suspects they contain cheat devices to manipulate emissions. (Der Spiegel)

Germany’s transport minister, Andreas Scheuer, summoned CEO Dieter Zetsche after the KBA ordered the recall of 4,900 faulty Mercedes Vito vans. The Daimler boss may have more explaining to do than he originally expected.

After accusations of racism, Super Dickmann’s, a German sweetmaker, apologized and deleted a Facebook ad for its chocolate-covered marshmallow Schokokuss, which it compared to Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s biracial wife.

Dozens of US news websites are temporarily unavailable across the EU as the new GDPR privacy law takes effect today. The Chicago Tribune and LA Times’ sites posted messages promising to quickly comply in order to share “our award-winning journalism” with European readers.

The director of transport at the Environmental Protection Agency, Christopher Grundler, told Handelsblatt the US is networking with other nations to toughen emission testing. He said Volkswagen’s corporate culture remained unsatisfactory.

Carmaker Daimler used an illegal shut-off device for emissions control in its Vito vans, according to Germany’s Motor Transport Authority, which is demanding a recall. The company rejects the accusation.

German retail company Peek & Cloppenburg used a Nazi-related slogan “Jedem das Seine” – “to each his own” – in an advertising campaign. The cynical words appeared on the entrance to the Buchenwald concentration camp.

Bayern Munich, Germany’s biggest soccer club, is the fourth-most valuable club in Europe at €2.55 billion. Top was Britain’s Manchester United at €3.25 billion, a KPMG study found.

Want something done in Germany? Go to Ingolstadt in Bavaria. The city’s Audi factory has the highest productivity per employee in Germany, a study by the Ifo research institute found.

Apple reportedly signed a deal with Volkswagen to equip VW vans with its self-driving technology and use them to transport staff at its California HQ. The tech giant abandoned its own attempt to make an electric vehicle in 2016.

US President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Commerce to examine whether car imports are a threat to US national security. He is reportedly considering a 25% import tax on vehicles and parts.

Deutsche Telekom, Europe’s largest telecoms firm, will tie future dividend payments to profits rather than cash flow. As the majority owner, the German government stands to benefit most.

Dieselgate refueled

Carmakers still cheating, says US pollution chief

As one of the team that exposed the Dieselgate scandal, Christopher Grundler of the US EPA is still hunting down emissions cheats. He thinks carmakers will continue to break laws unless there is a big shift in corporate culture.

No yin yang

A Great Wall against German investment

On paper there is nothing to stop German companies buying Chinese firms. But the reality is very different. Yet they don’t complain about the discrimination because they’re making big money in China.

spare change

Shell helps German battery maker Sonnen rake in €60 million

The oil giant's investment joins a series of green projects by fossil-fuel companies to fight global warming. But they aren't moving fast enough.

Goodbye, America

German carmakers giddy as China lowers tariffs

While the US threatens to raise tariffs, China is lowering them on cars. Germany, stuck in the middle, may have to rethink both relationships.

Think small

From VW to Siemens, German businesses join spin-off boom

Corporate divestment is en vogue and fueling a surge in mergers and acquisitions around the world. Notoriously cautious Germany has joined the frenzy with Daimler, Continental and others considering breakups.

Getting off Easy

Facebook’s Zuckerberg is home free after European Parliament meeting

Social network pioneer Mark Zuckerberg skated through his European Parliament hearing as the format left him little time to answer the questions he cherry-picked.

Rising Star

Germany’s Vestner takes elevators to the next level

A father-son duo at the Mittelstand company is experimenting with high-tech elevators that one day even robots could use.

P&L Check

Dispute puts Fresenius’ health at risk

A bitter US legal battle over a botched takeover has cast a shadow over German healthcare firm Fresenius and its separately listed cash cow, Fresenius Medical Care. That shouldn't stop it from seeking more acquisitions.

Brexit with Benefits

How German companies can capitalize on Brexit

Surveys predict doom and gloom for companies with British business ties, but in reality many take a wait-and-see attitude. Some are even increasing UK production.

Zwilling knives, german mittelstand

Cutting Edge

How knifemaker Zwilling stays sharp

Germany's Zwilling has been making knives for 287 years, but sales continue to rise with their expansion into cookware and embrace of social media.

Investment fears

Chinese take away another German firm, eventually

Berlin is increasingly worried about Chinese firms buying up German companies and know-how. But its extra scrutiny of deals is stifling investment, says the boss of plane-part supplier Cotesa, the latest Chinese acquisition.

Power Play

Uniper faces probe over Fortum takeover bid

US investor Paul Singer has joined calls for a special auditor to examine why Uniper has been so hostile to a takeover bid by Fortum.

Nationalist comrades

Far-right unionists gain popularity despite rising wages

Capitalizing on workers’ fear of innovation, labor representatives with far-right AfD sympathies are gaining ground at Germany’s corporate icons, from Volkswagen to Mercedes-Benz to SAP.

Counting Carbon

EU seeking emission reductions for heavy trucks, buses

Brussels’ target of a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide by 2030 is nearly double what a European industry group considers realistic.

long arm of scandal

Novartis lawyer exits as drug firm distances itself from Trump lawyer

Swiss giant’s general counsel is leaving as the company acknowledges contract with Michael Cohen was a mistake.

Electronic tonic

MediaMarktSaturn forges partnership against online threat

With its sales and share price on the slide, Europe's largest electronics retailer has hatched a plan with a French rival to form an alliance against online sellers such as Amazon. But they face an uphill battle.

Trade War

Airbus subsidies deemed illegal by WTO, landing a win for Boeing

Airbus and Boeing are fighting it out at the WTO. The trade organization agreed the EU wrongly subsidized Airbus' jetliners but has yet to weigh in whether Boeing also received illegal help.

Gun Running

Ex-employees of Heckler & Koch tried for assault rifle exports to Mexico

Trial in Germany hinges on export license for guns used in 2014 kidnapping of 43 high school students in Iguala.

Customer service

Amazon again picked as Germany’s best online retailer

The US retail behemoth is seen as the best online shop in Germany, a new study shows. It’s the third consecutive year it grabs the top spot.

Corporate liability

Ex-managers asked to pay up €120 million in German compliance debacle

Former German construction giant Bilfinger is demanding millions of euros back from erstwhile executives for past mismanagement. Another example of poor corporate governance in Germany.

paperwork crunch

EU data-privacy rules create burden for SMEs

New data-protection laws seem timelier than ever after the Facebook scandal but implementing them is overwhelming all but the biggest players.

the mittelstand

European Commission to mull over SME definition

Bigger companies want support from Brussels on bureaucracy and subsidies too. Now the European Commission is reconsidering what it means to be an SME.

Controlling filth

At Facebook, the content police are faceless

The social media giant has opened another German "deletion center" to eradicate hate speech. The job takes its psychological toll on staff.

bee

Hive five

Bee startup creates a buzz

Without bees the world would starve. That makes them good business, and now a German startup is tapping into the market by offering an online platform that connects beekeepers and farmers.

germany's vfx film production companies, visual effects

Action!

Hollywood makes the blockbusters, but Germany does the visual effects

German firms have captured a lucrative niche: the visual effects for movies and TV. But to defend its lead against rivals, the Germany industry will need more public money.

german guns industry

packing heat

Mittelstand guns: Made in Germany, fired in America

Midsize German gunmakers whose firearms are either heavily regulated or banned in Europe have found eager buyers in the US. One top model was invented by the Nazis.

personalized shopping

Badly dressed men (you know who you are) get help from artificial intelligence

Selling clothes online can be hard. But German start-ups like Berlin's Outfittery are growing fast by offering customized services with personal stylists and fancy algorithms that know what you want, even if you didn't.

Carmaker dispute

Supplier holds Volkswagen’s feet to the fire

A dispute between Volkswagen and a major supplier group has intensified, with threats of supply freezes and 1000-percent price increases for components. In recent years, cost pressure has heightened tensions between carmakers and suppliers.

Gigabit age

Vodafone acquisition of Unitymedia may spur German broadband

Vodafone says a cross-border deal with Liberty Global positions it as a ‘champion’ to keep Europe competitive. Unsurprisingly, Germany's biggest player disagrees.

Sod off

Germany to US: We’re ready for your sanctions and we’re staying in Iran

The US ambassador to Germany called on companies to leave Iran immediately. But German companies, which have a long history in the country, have been preparing for this moment for months, effectively cutting the US out of any Iran-related business.

Toxic fumes

Audi halts delivery of some A6 and A7 diesels with emissions issues

New problem with emission reduction raises more questions about Audi management and CEO’s future.

Bean wars

Nestlé’s deal with Starbucks leaves bitter taste for JAB

Nestlé’s new commercial alliance with the ubiquitous coffee brand wrongfoots its German rival, owner of Keurig, Peet's and Krispy Kreme.

oil prices, basf refinery

In the tank

Oil prices surge ahead of Trump’s Iran decision, hitting German business

The 20 DAX firms who have reported their first-quarter results so far have showed sales stagnating and pre-tax profit down 2 percent on average.

‘Letters of Transit’

VW CEO Diess gets ‘safe passage’ to travel in US amid Dieselgate probe

After US court indicted ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn, the Justice Department has assured the new CEO that he will not be arrested in connection with Dieselgate if he visits the US.

American football

German-American NFL hopeful has one heck of a name

An American father obsessed with football and names and a German mother passionate about culture have a son signed up as a pro football player, with two more likely to follow.

Forever Dieselgate

Alarm grows at VW’s slow Dieselgate investigation

Senior figures on VW’s supervisory board are alarmed at the slow pace of its internal Dieselgate investigation, highlighted by US criminal charges brought last week against its former CEO.

bikesharing berlin bikes

Mobility blues

Shared bikes take over Berlin

Eight bike-sharing companies now have more than 18,000 cycles on the capital city's streets, begging the question of how many bikes Berlin can bear.

Going for the top

US Dieselgate charges against former VW boss add weight to investors’ €9 billion claim

An American indictment of VW’s former CEO, Martin Winterkorn, spells more trouble for the carmaker. It will be even harder for the company to convince shareholders, who are suing for losses, it was telling the truth about Dieselgate.

Good chemistry

New BASF boss targets research and development

Martin Brudermüller, the new chief of the German chemicals giant, is betting that novel products rather than old faithfuls will be the key to the firm's success.

Tesla Model 3

Bolt bother

Tesla blames Bosch for Model S recall

Elon Musk’s e-car maker says rusty bolts from the German supplier were the cause of the March recall. It wants Bosch to foot the bill.

Real estate

Buffett brings his buy low, sell high strategy to Berlin

Berkshire Hathaway brokerage unit partners with local realtor to attract residents, investors to a booming property market.

punitive tariffs

Germany’s dangerous Chinese addiction

China is now the country's third-most important export market but a trade war between the US, China and Europe could impact globalized Germany the most.

5,741 Mustangs Sold

Why American cars don’t sell in Germany (Hint: it’s not tariffs)

Europeans don't buy American cars because they don't like their huge size and appetite for gasoline, not because of import duties.

Scandal free

A peek inside Volkswagen as it tries to change itself

Two years after Dieselgate rocked their company, VW employees are torn between trying to escape the shadow of the scandal, and wanting to transform.

chip industry

Semiconductors

European chip industry aims to get back on the map

Asia and the US are massively promoting their chip industries. Europe is trying to keep up in the race as semiconductors are a key to economic growth.

Better late than never

T-Mobile mega-deal a triumph for Telekom

The proposed $26 billion tie-up with Sprint promises a resounding success for Deutsche Telekom's boss, but regulators could still ruin the reception.

puky bikes made in germany

Life cycle

Workers with disabilities bolster children’s bike maker Puky

Hiring workers with special needs gives Puky the flexibility to adapt to the market and keep their bikes, scooters and trikes Made in Germany.

SME Power

Mittelstand

Volkswagen, Bayer and Adidas are household names. But more than 95 percent of Germany's economy is generated by lesser-known firms that aren’t listed on the blue-chip DAX Index.

Culinary culture

How Germany’s Schwarzwaldstube keeps its swagger

Baiersbronn in the Black Forest is an unlikely hotbed of Michelin-starred restaurants. At Germany's most-awarded, Schwarzwaldstube, Chef Torsten Michel explains tradition matters, but it only takes success so far.

blockchain for supply chain verification

More than Bitcoin

Industry gets on the blockchain

Blockchain is already transforming financial businesses, but the manufacturing and logistics industries could soon reap the rewards of the new technology.

Boehringer Ingelheim

Bumper sales

Drug firm Boehringer Ingelheim on a high

It's not the best known drug company in the world, but Germany's second-largest pharmaceutical producer has grand plans to boost sales by 40 percent in the next seven years.

Frank Haun, CEO of KMW

Arms race

Until Bundeswehr starts buying, KMW relies on overseas customers

Germany’s armed forces aren’t buying yet despite being stretched to the limit. Tankmaker Krauss-Maffei Wegmann is ready for deployment.

DAX

Profit and Loss Check

Once a year, we take a critical look at the financial health of selected German blue-chip companies around the time of their annual shareholders' meetings.